How to Help a Child with Reading Difficulties: 7 Effective Strategies for Parents


Are you wondering how to help a child with reading difficulties? If your kid struggles with reading, you are not alone. Many children experience reading difficulties. In fact, sixty-five percent of fourth graders in the US read below grade level.


The good news is that you can help your child improve their reading skills. But, to be successful, you will need to understand how to help a child with reading difficulties.


Learning how to help a struggling reader starts with uncovering why they are struggling. To help you determine why your child has difficulty reading, we will examine some common challenges that struggling readers face. Then, we will look at the most effective strategies for how to help a child with reading difficulties.


Ready to learn how to help a child struggling with reading? Let’s get started.


what makes a good children’s book illustrations

What causes reading difficulties?


The first step to knowing how to help a child with reading difficulties is to understand why they are struggling. With this information, finding the right strategy to improve their reading skills will be easier.


Here are some of the top reasons why children struggle with reading.


Why Children Struggle with Reading


  • Phonemic Awareness – phonemic awareness is the ability to break apart spoken words into sounds. If your child struggles with phonemic awareness, they will have difficulty identifying the different sounds that make up a word. A child must be able to break apart spoken words before they are ready to read. This includes being able to isolate sounds (first, middle, and last sound), blend sounds (/m/ /a/ /p/ = map), and segment sounds (“map” = /m/ /a/ /p/).

  • Alphabetic Principle – the alphabetic principle refers to the understanding that words consist of letters and letters represent sounds. In addition to phonemic awareness, a child must grasp the alphabetic principle to decode/read words in print.

  • Word Recognition – some children quickly develop the ability to recognize frequently used words and word parts (e.g., prefixes, suffixes). For example, ‘the,’ ‘and,’ ‘un-,’ ‘-ing,’ etc. That said, this is not easy for every kid. If your child cannot recognize common words and affixes, identifying and forming words will be more complicated.

  • Vocabulary – if your child has a limited vocabulary and background knowledge, it will be challenging to comprehend what they are reading. For example, a child reading about volcanoes will have an easier time if they have seen the word before. They will also find the text more manageable if they have some understanding of the topic already.

  • Reading Experience – your child’s reading difficulties could also be due to limited exposure to books. For young readers, practice makes perfect! Therefore, the more your child reads, the faster they will improve.

  • Resistant Readers – many children don’t like to read. Resistant readers are often hesitant to read because they are not confident or don’t enjoy reading. This issue is straightforward to address – if you know how to help a child with reading difficulties.

Can struggling readers catch up?


Struggling readers can catch up to their peers – with the right help.


The key here is early intervention. The sooner a child receives support, the easier it will be for them to catch up. Thus, it is essential to identify reading difficulties and provide personalized help as soon as possible. It is also necessary to recognize that all children learn at their own pace. Therefore, patience and praise are vital for helping a child with reading difficulties.


Once you understand why your child is struggling, you can begin to explore different strategies for how to help a child with reading difficulties.


Let’s look at some of the most effective techniques to help a struggling reader.


How to Help a Child with Reading Difficulties – 7 Effective Strategies


What is the best way to help a struggling reader? These seven strategies will help you improve your child’s reading and comprehension skills.

1. Help a Child with Reading Difficulties by Reading the Right Books


To help your child overcome reading difficulties, you must ensure they read the right books. The right book for your child will depend on their reading ability. Most importantly, you want to choose a book that is challenging but not too difficult. Reading a book that is too easy will not help improve their skills. On the other hand, reading a book that is too difficult may diminish your child’s confidence as a reader.


So, when selecting a book with your child, start by asking yourself these questions:


  • Will they be able to read most of the words?
  • Will they understand what they are reading?

Want to make sure you choose the right book for your child? Check out this article – What Makes a Good Children’s Book.


2. Focus on Your Child’s Interests


To know how to help a child with reading difficulties, you must also know the child’s likes and dislikes. That’s because finding books a child is interested in is necessary to increase engagement and motivation.


Once you have a list of your child’s current interests, look for books that cover these topics. An excellent resource for this is a reading app for kids.


Reading apps like Booka provide hundreds of books on a variety of topics. The kid’s books in Booka’s extensive library are organized by interest. This makes it easier to find books your child will love. In addition, Booka offers personalized recommendations so you can continue to provide your child with exciting reading materials.


3. Build Your Child’s Confidence


One of the most impactful things you can do to help a child with reading difficulties is to build their confidence. To do so, be sure to provide lots of different reading materials.


A great way to access various helpful reading materials is to use an online reading app like Booka. A reading app for kids makes it easy to access fun and interesting books any time, anywhere.


Patience is also important. Let your child move through each book at their own pace. Don’t push them to read too far beyond their level until they are ready. Encouragement is essential as well. Celebrate big and small successes to help build your child’s confidence as a reader.


4. Read Daily to Help a Child with Reading Difficulties


One of the best (and fastest) ways to help a struggling reader is to read with them daily. To help a child with reading difficulties, ensure you read aloud to them and that they read to you.


Reading aloud to your child will allow them to hear what fluent reading sounds like. While reading aloud, you can also demonstrate strategies for determining unfamiliar words.


Having your child read aloud is also extremely valuable. This will allow you to address mistakes and strengthen their vocabulary. In addition, it will help you understand why they are struggling and how to help a child with reading difficulties.


If you do not have time to read aloud to your child every day, Booka offers a read-to-me function. This feature allows your child to listen to stories being read aloud.


5. Practice Making Connections


Parents and teachers must teach children comprehension skills. One of the best ways to help improve comprehension is to discuss a story as you read it. Talk about how you connect to the story and let your child share their connections as well.


For example, if you are reading the popular children’s book Worth the Wait by Elliot Kreloff, take some time to discuss a circumstance when you wished for something you didn’t have. Then, ask your child to share a similar experience.


This strategy will help your child understand new concepts and better comprehend what they read.


6. Read a Book Multiple Times to Help a Child with Reading Difficulties


Get your child to read a book multiple times. This will help them build confidence and develop word recognition.


Once your child has mastered a book, you can move on to a more challenging text. That said, be sure you don’t choose a book that is too difficult. If your child struggles to read a new book, this can decrease their motivation and love of reading. So, try to find a new and exciting book with words similar to the book they have mastered. This strategy will ensure the book is not too difficult and test your child’s word recognition skills.


7. Provide Opportunities for Writing


Writing and reading go hand in hand. Therefore, our list of strategies for how to help a child with reading difficulties wouldn’t be complete without suggesting writing activities.


As your child continues to expand their language skills, have them engage in purposeful and authentic writing. For example, have your child write a letter to a friend or family member or help you create a grocery list. Your child might also enjoy creating their own books or keeping a journal. These exercises will help them further build and strengthen their reading, writing, and comprehension skills.


Top Resources for Struggling Readers


In addition to the strategies above, you will need the proper resources to help a child with reading difficulties. Luckily, Booka is a one-stop shop that can provide everything you need – all in one place.


Here are several benefits of this top resource for struggling readers.


  • Kids love technology. As a reading app for kids, Booka is engaging and motivating for young readers.

  • Booka offers a variety of genres and topics for your child to choose from. In addition, the reading app provides books for children of all ages and reading abilities. This makes it effortless to find the perfect book for your child.

  • There is no need to purchase individual books with Booka. Simply download the app, and you will gain access to hundreds of books at the tip of your fingers.

  • Booka’s read-to-me function allows children to listen and follow along with a story. This allows your child to hear what fluent reading sounds like. This feature is incredibly convenient for parents who do not always have the time to read aloud to their children daily.

  • This reading app will allow your child to reread their favorite books – without the worry or hassle of returning them.

  • There are no deadlines or late fees. Your child can access books whenever and wherever they want to read.


When faced with how to help a child with reading difficulties, having access to an inventory of hundreds of books will set your child up for success.


Download Booka today to start improving your child’s reading skills!


Download Booka Today!

*Available on iOS (iPhones and iPads).